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Remedy has explaining the reasoning behind why Alan Wake didn't ultimately feature an open world setting. The developer stated that the world in the Xbox 360 exclusive was "rather empty".
"We took the effort of writing the story so it was geographically and chronologically ‘correct’. Even when we knew we were doing a linear game, we wanted to keep that. I’m in great favour of having the feel of a place, the sense that the world continues," explained art director Saku Lehtinen in the latest issue of Edge (via VideoGamer).
"Rather than the painstaking work of building the world from scratch and trying to make it look like an open world, though, we went the other way. We said ‘Hey, we have a world which is, truth be told, rather empty. So let’s find interesting places that inspire us – good starting points – and then mould it in that direction," he continued.
"If there’s positive stuff that looks genuine and feels right, then let’s leave it there.’ And we narrowed it down until we felt it was enough. We don't want people to wander about for so long they think nothing's there. People need to be rewarded for their exploration, so we had to find the middle ground."
Upon Alan Wake's announcement during 2005, it was pegged as an open-world game. However, Remedy decided to switch the structure to a linear route. The company's chief technology officer, Markus Maki, said that it was a "difficult compromise" to find the right balance between open world and linear.
Alan Wake was released on Xbox 360 in 2010, and landed on the PC earlier this year. With over two million copies sold, a sequel seems plausible.